We have all heard stories about people doing stupid stunts for the sake of getting “liked” on social media. Remember the cinnamon challenge, anyone? What appeared as an innocent stunt has sent dozens to the emergency room with collapsed lungs, bleeding noses, and poisoned airways. The popularity of these challenges proves that people utilize social media as a mechanism for popularity. However, the thousands of dollars, television appearances and world-wide recognition is a veneer for the danger simmering just below the surface.
A Twitter user commented that “Rituals (YouTube challenges) of the digital culture are becoming life threatening.” His comment was followed by an article outlining the newest trend, the “fire challenge”. As described by Caitlin Dewey, it “consists of pouring rubbing alcohol on oneself, lighting it on fire, and putting the resulting blaze out before you sustain third-degree burns and/or burn your house down.”
Sounds lovely, right? Wrong.
A fifteen-year old from Kentucky, who received second-degree burns after attempting the stunt, warns others against it. He says, “You can get caught on fire and die. Your house can get caught on fire. Wherever you’re at could get caught on fire.” This does not sound fun at all, yet teenagers everywhere are rising to the challenge. The dangerous thing about these stunts being advertised via Youtube and Facebook, are that the risks are not being associated with them. Teenaged participants, often struggling with fitting in, feel that accomplishing these challenges skyrocket their popularity. They forget that they are not as invincible as they assume.
While social media is a great tool for sharing material, users need to be more careful to screen information. Risks need to be clarified. The danger involved in these stunts cannot be felt online; the challenged cannot feel the heat of the fire until it consumes them.